Sustainable technology is a huge and complex issue. It won’t be easy to repair years of environmental damage, but thanks to technology, it’s not impossible either. New technologies are emerging all the time to help the world reduce its emissions, tackle pollution and protect the environment. Here’s a look at five of these technologies that are changing the world for the better.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
One of the most significant parts of sustainable technology today is renewable energy. Ditching fossil fuels is a huge part of the fight against climate change, so renewables like wind and solar are essential. They have also already made impressive progress.
Renewable energy sources now produce 29% of all electricity worldwide, and their growth shows no signs of slowing. As technology improves, these systems become more efficient and affordable, helping them grow even faster. Because renewables allow people to generate their own electricity, they can be even cheaper than fossil fuels in some situations.
New renewable technologies like solar glass, which allows people to generate electricity from windows, are making green energy even more affordable. Although fossil fuels may still account for the majority of electricity today, renewables may soon take over.
It’s impossible to talk about sustainable technology and not mention electric vehicles (EVs). While electric cars were once a niche market, companies like Tesla have made them a common sight on the roads today. Many major car manufacturers are now making electric cars and they are becoming cheaper and more efficient.
The benefits of electric cars go beyond sustainability. Because they have fewer moving parts, they require less maintenance and can accelerate much faster and deliver more torque than traditional vehicles. Electric motors also take up less space than internal combustion engines, so EVs offer more cargo space than your average car.
While most EVs you see on the road today are passenger cars, this technology is expanding. Long-haul electric trucks are beginning to be used, and several companies are exploring ways to electrify aircraft.
Hydrogen fuel cells are a less common but equally exciting part of sustainable technology. These devices use the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to generate energy without harmful emissions. Some electric cars use fuel cells, giving them a range of up to 600 miles in some cases, but vehicles are just one of many uses for hydrogen energy.
Hydrogen can hold a huge amount of energy for its weight, making it ideal for energy storage. Energy companies can convert unused energy into hydrogen, then use fuel cells to convert it back into electricity when needed. This provides a much more efficient and long-term storage medium than batteries.
This storage could prove crucial for renewable energy sources. Since wind and solar do not produce electricity on demand, they must store it to avoid wasting energy. Fuel cells could provide the reliable and efficient storage they need, helping to make renewable energy sources more practical.
Another impressive piece of sustainable technology is gene editing. Scientists can now edit genes to give organisms certain characteristics, which is particularly useful in agriculture. Genetically modified crops can feed more people while consuming fewer resources, helping to reduce agriculture’s significant environmental impact.
Agriculture accounts for 70% of fresh water consumption, and chemical fertilizers can leach into the environment and threaten wildlife. Gene editing technology can help by creating crops that require less water and even self-fertilize. As more farms use these bioengineered plants, they won’t have to use as much water or fertilizer.
Gene editing can also help make plants more resistant to pests, reducing the need for harmful pesticides. Likewise, it can improve crop yields and help farms feed more people without taking up more land. These improvements will be essential as the population grows but resources dwindle.
You are probably already familiar with 3D printing, but you may not think of it as an environmentally friendly technology. Although not directly related to the environment, it has several advantages in terms of sustainability. Above all, it is much more efficient than traditional production methods.
3D printing, also called additive manufacturing, is more energy efficient than most conventional methods, reducing the associated carbon emissions from electricity. Because it adds material instead of cutting it away, it’s also more resource efficient. Companies can use it to produce the same products without wasting as much material and energy.
Additive manufacturing can even print buildings using environmentally friendly alternatives to concrete. These massive printers can help construct buildings in much less time, reducing the emissions of the construction industry. If they run on renewable energy, they can even achieve zero emissions.
While some technologies have negatively impacted the environment, technology also offers solutions. If the world hopes to reverse climate change and create a sustainable future, it will need to take advantage of new technologies. As research into these technologies continues, more solutions and innovations will emerge, leading to exponential improvements.
These five technologies are just a sampling of the ways new technologies are changing the world. Many are also still in their infancy, so their impact will only grow from now on. It won’t be long before this sustainable technology could change everyday life forever.
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Last updated on July 9, 2022.